By Chris Nial
I’m lucky to work a group of talented people I truly respect and admire. Even though our office is based in a small Welsh village, on any given day we work on projects that put us in touch with our vast network of associates and colleagues based in five continents and over a dozen countries.
My colleagues, many of them veterans in the field of communications and strategy development, bring a wide-range of skills and experience to the table. Amongst us are: master campaigners, award-winning journalists, entrepreneurs, economists, high-level researchers, public relations experts, PhDs, university professors, public speakers, and even a published poet!
Over the years, this remarkable group of people has worked on high-level strategy development and public policy projects with three heads of state and five governments; conducted an international study among key influencers of HIV vaccine utilisation policies in 27 countries; provided crisis and reputation management to some of the world’s top CEOs, finance teams, banks, and political leaders; launched a world-renown anti-allergy drug; informed health communication strategies that influence the highest level of health policy decision-making internationally; managed the entry of global brands into the dynamic environment of some of the world’s biggest emerging markets; offered invaluable advice to governments, corporations and NGOs on projects as diverse as tourism, public health, the environment and defence; and contributed to the success of major education and healthcare advocacy campaigns the world over.
Phew! I get tired just typing it! As you can imagine, to have such an incredible output and to combine the talents and energies of such a diverse group of people takes some skill. At Baird’s CMC, I like to think we have two kinds of people – there are the Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and there are the Project Managers (PMs). SMEs are veterans in the field of communications and development, with a vast pool of knowledge and experience to draw from. To put it simply, they are the “creatives”, the visionaries, the type Bs (as far as work processes are concerned). Then we have the PMs, of which I am one. PMs are people who are specifically qualified to run complex international projects by helping to bring the discipline of management consulting to the often creative practice of communications. In other words, we are the type As, the taskmasters, the list-makers, the deadline-setters… So how exactly do these two very different types combine their energies to translate ideas into action and provide our clients with complete and creative solutions?
My colleague Aditya Bahadur explains this wonderfully in an article titled A Method in the Madness: Why Project Management is Integral to Any Project. He writes, “People from creative fields – journalism, public relations, writing, advertising – can be stunningly innovative when it comes to their deliverables yet disorganised from a project management perspective. This is where the value of project management becomes apparent – project management experts and systems help complete a project satisfactorily, on time and within budget.”